At the beginning of the 20th century, when 12-string guitars first appeared in the United States, the instruments were considered novelty items, curiosities, freaks of guitar making that were beneath the dignity of serious companies like Martin and Gibson. But when Blind Willie McTell picked up a Stella 12-string in 1927, and then basically never put it down, the instrument was suddenly legitimized.

A folk singer named Huddie Ledbetter, better known as Lead Belly, had actually made the Stella 12-string his own earlier, in 1912, but Lead Belly had so many scrapes with the law and spent so much time in prison that he wouldn’t get a chance to popularize the ringing tones of the 12-string until the 1930s and ’40s. Even then, his biggest hit, “Good Night Irene,” came after his death in 1949.

Pete Seeger and the Weavers kept the 12-string sound alive until the 1960s, when groups like the Rooftop Singers (“Walk Right In”) made it the go-to instrument on the commercial folk scene. Gibson was ready with its B-45 in 1961 and its B-25 in 1962, while Martin got on board a bit later with its D12-20 in 1964 and D12-35 in 1965.

The loudest noise in 12-strings, though, was made by Rickenbacker, thanks to a custom, one-of-a-kind 12-string version of its 325 hollowbody electric guitar made in 1964 for John Lennon of the Beatles. George Harrison also became a Rickenbacker acolyte, playing his Rickenbacker 360 12-string on songs like "A Hard Day’s Night."

One musician who liked that sound a lot was Roger McGuinn of the Byrds. Reportedly, he bought a 360-12 after seeing the movie named after of the famous Beatles song. He went on to play a 12-string on one of the Byrds’ biggest hits, “Turn Turn Turn.”

By the late 1970s, newer companies like Taylor made acoustic 12-strings part of their lines. Once again, a key musician would cement the instrument's sound in our collective soundtrack. In this case it was Neil Young who, while vacationing in Florida, purchased a Taylor 12-string, an 855, at a local music shop. Young liked his 855 so much he ordered a second, and Taylor subsequently gained widespread recognition when Young’s 855 figured prominently in his concert film, "Rust Never Sleeps."

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Vintage Guitars Info

Vintage Guitars Info

This great reference site features detailed sections on vintage guitar makers, including Gibson, Fender, Martin, Gr… [read review or visit site]

Vintage Guitar and Bass

Vintage Guitar and Bass

Want to see all the old brochures and ads for your favorite vintage axe? Check out this great site, which showcases… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

New Caline Cp-05 10 Isolated Output 9v 12v 18v Guitar Effect Pedal Power SupplyNew Caline Cp-05 10 Isolated Output 9v 12v 18v Guitar Effect Pedal Power Supply1975 Ovation Deacon 12-string! Rare Model! W/ Ohsc! Fancy Breadwinner Viper !Danelectro 12 String Electric GuitarVintage 1970's Guild F112 12-string Acoustic Guitar For Project Or Parts1970s Ovation Pacemaker 1615-4 12 String Acoustic Electric Guitar Luthier RepairTaylor 12-string 455ce Acoustic/electric GuitarTaylor 456ce 12-string 2014 Spring Limited Acoustic Electric Guitar1964 Gibson B25 12 String Acoustic Guitar B25n Good Player Relic Usa Vtg 64Martin Dm-12 12-string Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar With Case, Right-handedWashburn Wd10sce12 12 String Dreadnought Cutaway Acoustic Guitar 153417 HIbanez Artcore Af75tdg Hollow Body Electric Guitar W/ Case Af75tdg-iv-12-01 C F Martin Acoustic Electric Guitar Custom X D12x1ae Series 12 String Parts 9426Dean Exotica Fm 12 String Acoustic/electric Guitar No Reserve!!!Giannini Gscrapro12ceq Craviola Professional 12 String Acoustic Electric Guitar Ovation Celebrity Cs-245 Cs245 12-string Electric Acoustic Guitar W/ Hard CaseDanelectro Dc3, 1990's Korean Reissue, Silver/black SparkleBrand New Candy Apple Red Double Neck 12 & 6 String Electric Guitar And CaseIbanez Am73-tbr-12-01 Artcore Semi Hollowbody Electric GuitarOvation Acoustic Electric 6751 12 String Guitar In Showroom Condition W/caseIbanez Artcore Am73-tbr-12-01 Maple Hollowbody Electric Guitar In HscAria Pro Ii 12 String Aquanote Aq/65/12 Solid Body Guitar Black New Great Playing 12 String Tele Style Electric GuitarHondo Fame 12 Sting Electric GuitarGibson Limited Edition Songwriter Special 12 StringBmi Pedal Steel Guitar Custom S12 Ext E9, Keyless + Extras, 4x5, Lap SteelJohn Lennon Framus "hootenanny" 5/024 12 String Guitar Vintage - Very Rare!!!!! Look Alike 12 String Electric Guitar + Gig Bag New 12 String Strat Style Natural Adler Electric Guitar Sst10-12n And Gig BagBreedlove Sj20/w 12 String2002 Martin D12-28 **dead Mint Perfect**Ovation Balladeer 1755 12-string Guitar Right-handedMartin D12x1 With OhscVintage 1975 Guild F212 12-string Project Guitar, All There But Needs Work.Ovation 12 String Guitar Acoustic ElectricRaven West Guitar -- Rm12 -- 12 String Electric WhiteCordoba Fusion 12 Orchestra Pro Cd/inCustom Made 12 String Sunburst Guitar Takamine G Jumbo Eg523sc-12 Acoustic/electric GuitarBeautiful New Natural Double Neck 12 & 6 String Electric Guitar And CaseNew 12 String Thinline Tele Style Semi Hollow Chambered Finished Electric Guitar Ibanez Vintage V302 12 String High Quality (1986 Crafted )Mitchell 12 String Acoustic Guitar Md-100s With CaseBudda Superdrive Series 1 1x12 Pre-peavey, Rare! Usa Caline Cp-05 10 Isolated Output 9v 12v 18v Guitar Effects Pedal Power SupplyDigitech Mosaic 12 String Effect PedalFender Tim Armstrong Hellcat 12 String Acoustic Electric GuitarBrand New Candy Apple Red Double Neck 12 & 6 String Electric Guitar And CaseCaline Cp-05 10 Lsolated Output 9v 12v 18v Ac Guitar Effect Pedal Power Supply New Great Playing 12 String Tele Style Electric GuitarTacoma Dm912 12 String Acoustic Guitar With K And K Mini PickupOscar Schmidt 12 String Acoustic/electric Cutaway Guitar With Soft CaseCrafter D8-12/n Acoustic Solid Top 12 String Guitar - Nos - Free Shipping *Alvarez Wildwood 12 String Guitar Model 5037Vintage Authentic Hofner 492 12 String Acoustic Guitar Made In Germany RhNew 12 String Thinline Tele Style Semi Hollow Chambered Finished Electric GuitarGoya Vintage 50's? Acoustic Guitar 12 String For Restoration New 12 String Strat Style Natural Adler Electric Guitar Sst10-12n And Gig BagJoyo Green Jf12 Voodoo Ultimate Octave Guitar Effect Pedal True Bypass Us StockHagstrom Viking Dlx 12 2012 Black + Case

Recent News: 12 String Guitars

Source: Google News

'Black fathers of American folk music: Lead Belly and Josh White”
New Pittsburgh Courier, January 24th

He was known as the “King of the 12-String Guitar,” which became his ticket to life and freedom. Many of his songs can be found in the Library of Congress, the most famous being “Good Night, Irene.” In June of 1998 the United States Postal Service...Read more

Don Felder to perform on rock night at Lakes Jam
Brainerd Daily Dispatch, January 23rd

1 best 12-string guitar song in the world by Guitar World magazine. After leaving the group in 2001, Felder also became a New York Times bestselling author when his riveting confessional memoir "Heaven and Hell: My Life in The Eagles" ...Read more

An American Music Legacy at The Grammy Museum
Lasentinel, January 22nd

He strummed his Stella 12 string guitar with authority, improvising as he sang, he soon became a walking old anthology of unwritten folk music. Born January 20, 1888 a in the Louisiana swampland, Leadbelly grew up in an atmosphere of violence and...Read more

Kottke returning to the Sheldon
The Edwardsville Intelligencer, January 21st

Leo Kottke's powerful guitar playing and his intimate relationship with audiences have made him one of folk music's favorite live performers. Known for his innovative 12-string guitar technique, Kottke is a member of the Guitar Player Magazine Hall of...Read more

Turn it down
City Pulse, January 21st

Huddie William Ledbetter (1888 –1949), aka Lead Belly, is known for being the “king of the 12-string guitar,” spending time in prison, and writing classics like “Good Night, Irene.” He also recorded popular renditions of traditional songs like “Where...Read more

12-String Effect Pedal Now Available
Sonic State, January 9th

DigiTech and UK distributor Sound Technology Ltd have announced immediate availability of the new DigiTech Mosaic Polyphonic 12-String Effect Pedal. They tell us that the DigiTech Mosaic provides the unmistakable sound of a 12-string guitar - its chime...Read more

Briefly | Music
The Register-Guard, January 1st

On Saturday, audiences have the opportunity to see him perform with a fellow American Guitar Master — Tracy Moore, a 12-string guitar “wizard,” as Pattis calls him. Pattis convinced Moore to leave his Puget Sound retreat to join him for a night of...Read more

SC4 free concerts to feature 12-string guitar player
Port Huron Times Herald, October 11th

St. Clair County Community College's Thursday Noon and Night Concert Series will continue Oct. 23 with 12-string guitar player Neil Jacobs. The concert will be at both noon and 7 p.m. in the Fine Arts Theatre on the college's Port Huron campus. Jacobs ...Read more